The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has rejected the contention that the previous Rajapaksa regime had ignored India.
In an interview recently with The Hindu at his Kuruengala residence, the SLFP general secretary, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, who was Petroleum Minister during the Rajapaksa regime, asked: “how can you ignore India ?” He went on to say that most of Sri Lanka’s imports including food items were from India. Apart from tourists, a large number of Indian companies were operating in Sri Lanka and Indian Chief Executive Officers were here.
Mr. Yapa and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa have been fielded as nominees of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in the Kurunegala electoral district and their party, SLFP, is heading the Alliance.
As for the policy towards China, the general secretary said: “We were thinking of developing our country quickly. We had wanted to accelerate development.” This was why China became a player.
Maintaining that Sri Lanka, during the Rajapaksa regime, was non aligned, Mr Yapa said the earlier government’s policy was not to align with anyone against another. “We will maintain the same policy again and again.”
He recalled how his country and China had historical ties, just as it had with India.
Mr Yapa’s colleague and leader of the Mahajana Eksath Perumana (MEP), one of the constituents of the UPFA, Dinesh Gunawardena, described as “tremendous” the assistance of India to Sri Lanka after the Eelam War and the 2004 tsunami.